Current debacle in D.C. is rooted in racism

The current cover of Time magazine displays a photograph of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and emblazoned across the picture are the words, "Majority Rule." These two words form the concept which makes the American democracy possible — the resolve of the people to support the collective determination of the greater good for the greatest number. These words across the cover of Time are scratched over. A jagged red scar has been cut into the image as if by some enemy.

This makes for a powerful image. It instantly conveys the hurt, harm and danger of the political tactic being employed by the tea party fringe of the Republican Party. In their adamant resistance against the legislative and executive initiatives of the Democrats in Congress and the White House, they threaten the very government of the United States. The tea party and those too fearful to challenge them have, once again, driven the government to the brink of impotence in the face of real domestic and international challenges. We should not be surprised.

The president of the United States is an African-American and, as has been historically true, there are significant numbers of fellow Americans who will not support him simply because of his race. There are elected officials — governors, senators, congressmen and congresswomen who see nothing good in whatever President Obama does. The Affordable Care Act, which is rooted in policies first promoted by Republicans, is derided, not because the policies won't work as there is growing evidence that they will work, but because President Obama is seen as the author of the law. I say two things about that resistance — the tea party would rather see a national economic disaster than to support President Obama and, second, they will not support him because of his race.

I call this the Brooklyn Syndrome after the fact that in 1948 some Brooklyn Dodgers baseball fans rooted against their home team once Jackie Robinson became the first black major leaguer. The Civil War was fought in order to preserve the Union in the face of a rebellion by states that were determined to see blacks remain in subjugation and slavery and we're willing to destroy the country for it. Following the Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools in 1954. some southern communities closed all schools rather than see blacks achieve an equal educational opportunity. Today, the virulent root of racism remains strong. Perhaps its strongest branch runs through the most conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Reginald Wade Lawrence, Baltimore

The writer is pastor of St. Mark's Institutional Baptist Church.

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